The tiny island of Grenada today is hardly more than a point of passing interest to passengers aboard Caribbean cruise ships.
But on Oct. 25, 1983, it was the venue for a pell-mell draconian drama staged by the Pentagon that briefly captured worldwide attention.
Its impresario, Commander-in-Chief Ronald Reagan, glibly asserted three days after the tragic comedy opened that the factious and fractious Grenadian government posed a danger to American students at the island’s medical school.
Thus, our massive military assault on this island, hardly bigger than Catalina and with a population about equal to Santa Monica, was not an invasion but a “rescue” mission.
For skeptics in the audience, President Reagan further claimed that the well-being of this poor little island, along with its neighbors in the region, was being threatened by the menace of a Soviet-Cuban takeover.
We were told also that the island’s governor general, the titular head there following the bloody coup that left Grenada’s 4-year-old indigenous regime in shambles, had called for our help to restore law and order on the isle.
What better script could be hoped for by an actor cast in the role of President? An easy one-act morality play with a victorious ending would do wonders for him in his 1984 run for a second term in office. It would also help the American public get its mind off the tragic deaths of some 250 Marines in Beirut just two days before our Grenada adventure. And for a nation still brooding over Vietnam, what better tonic than a pristine little war we could be sure of winning going in?
And who better to manage and direct it all to the star’s satisfaction than a shadowy group in the wings of the White House, namely then newly appointed National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, CIA Director William Casey and their minions, Rear Adm. John Poindexter and Lt. Col. Oliver North?
Now, four years later is there anyone anywhere who cares enough to wonder or worry about the dismal state Granada’s in under the heavy hand of its current prime minister, Herbert Blaize?
Where in deed, in heaven’s name, is our concern for Grenada now that it really needs our help?
Will we again rush to “save” it only after the oppressive conditions there spawn another revolutionary movement?
If so, it proves we learned nothing from that episodic event in 1983 and are thus likely to repeat it.